The San Francisco Marathon 2014, A Race Review

I’ve finally completed my race review of the San Francisco Marathon! It’s a little lengthy, but so is a marathon!

The San Francisco Marathon

Sunday, July 27th 2014

5:30 am



Price: I paid $175 for the full marathon, but if you plan and register early you can get in for as low as $115. YES this is a pricey race; however, in a city that boasts an average of about $3400 for a 2 bedroom apartment rental, I’m guessing shutting down San Francisco costs a pretty penny.

Expo: The SF Marathon Expo was held at the Fort Mason Center, which is a change of venue over the last 2 years. One of the BEST things about this new location is parking: there are tons of FREE PARKING LOTS in the vicinity, which is almost unheard of in San Francisco.


View of the Golden Gate from our parking spot…not bad, eh?

My boyfriend, Rich, and I were able to find parking immediately, and walked to the expo in 5 minutes.

The SF Marathon expo is always a good one: organized, with plenty of vendors and photo ops.

SFM14ClifBar SFM14ExpoNuun

We attended on Friday evening and there was no wait to pick up our bibs and shirts. I can’t speak for Saturday, which was undoubtedly busier.


I remember feeling the race-day jitters really kick in as Rich left me for the half marathon tables (he would be running the second half of the course) and I walked up to pick up my “Full Marathon” bib for the first time for this race. I’ve run the first half marathon twice in a row, but I never imagined I would be crazy enough to run the full!

The Swagger: 


Last year the tech shirts were a bit of a misstep (I heart you SF Marathon but they were 3/4 sleeves, even for men??). The 2014 shirts are much nicer this year: wearable colors and proper fit.

After collecting our bibs, race shirts, beer wristbands, snacking on samples and taking a few pictures…


…we headed out. My favorite thing about the change of venue is that every Friday the Fort Mason Center hosts an Off The Grid food truck festival!


I had a few extra calories to burn on Sunday, so I was more than happy to partake in the food:


Korean Fried Chicken Waffle Sandwich, don’t mind if I do

Race Day: I’ve run most races on less than 3 hours of sleep, but I was hoping to snag a few hours of shut-eye before the big race. Part of it is nerves, and part of it is my A-typical work schedule, as I generally work from 4pm to 1am (and as late as 3am on weekends!).


Unfortunately, I never fell asleep the night before the marathon. I was absolutely exhausted, and initially left the house without my water bottle and fuel! I had to turn around and gather my things, and then on my second attempt at driving to the race I ran a red light! It was a rough start to the day.

The Starting Line:


G’morning Bay Bridge!


Since I had to go back home, I arrived at the starting line at the Ferry Building with only a few minutes to spare. Bag check was cake, and I was in the corral in minutes; however, I did not get to warm up. I was assigned to corral 6 but I think I ended up in corral 7. Sleep deprivation was obviously interfering with my ability to navigate. There is always so much energy at the starting line, though, and adrenaline took over: I was so excited to run! I took a breath and said eff it…I trained for this, I’ll sleep when I am dead and I’m GOING TO DO IT!

The Breakdown:


Miles 1-4: Mostly flat and easy with one hill at Fort Mason. This part of the course is scenic along the ocean, touristy (Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf) and crowded with both full and first half marathoners. My goal for the first half was to conserve energy and I was very conscious of not starting out too fast.

Miles 4-6: And this is where the hills begin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you train for hills they are totally manageable. They don’t last forever.

Miles 6-9: Running the Golden Gate Bridge is a huge seller for running this race, but it was UNGODLY packed this year. I’ve confirmed this with other runners, and it has never been this bad before so I don’t know what happened. My pace disappointingly slowed considerably. Rather than trying to weave through the crowd and waste energy and add mileage, I decided to just take the experience for what it was: a dream moment of running across the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.

Miles 9-13: The Presidio and Richmond District. Lots of up and downhill. Mostly up. Miles 11-13 are a continuous gain in elevation.

Miles 13-19: Golden Gate Park. The race splits in 2, and the first half marathoners head to their finish line and the course becomes considerably less congested. We meet up with the second half marathoners at some point in the park, but it is never overly crowded. There is a sneaky, subtle incline between miles 14 all the way through 19, which I found to be the most tedious part of the race. The temperature was also starting to heat up. My hands were so sweaty that I wasn’t able to open up my gels and had to stop on the sidelines a couple times to open and eat them. I came prepared for the heat by carrying my own water bottle, knowing that SF experienced record high temps the week prior to the race. I was able to refill my bottle twice along the course at aid stations, which would prove immensely helpful in the final miles of the race when the temperature really started to spike.

Miles 19-22: Exiting the park. I was so happy for the change of scenery as we ran down Haight Street! The sun was out in full force, and I was preparing myself to run head on into the Wall at any minute. But it never happened! I was tired for sure, maybe even a little delirious having been up for over 24 hours at this point, but I NEVER faced that soul-crushing-I’m-never-going-to-finish-every-bone-in-my-body-hurts-running-sucks-I-want-my-mommy moment. I allowed myself to walk for about 60 seconds at mile 22 to catch my breath, but that was the only time I walked along the course.

Miles 22-24: Running through the Mission. I live in the Mission so I’m very familiar with the territory. The last real hill of the course is at mile 22, and once I was up and over I knew it was smooth sailing to the finish line. It was uncomfortably hot outside, and the sun beating down was wearing on everyone. People were really starting to walk. As annoying as carrying a water bottle can be, I was so grateful. I was running a little slower than ideal, and I had to pour water on myself a few times to cool off, but I wanted to resist having to walk.

Miles 24-26.2: The home stretch. I had plenty of energy saved up for these last miles! I was running happy, and excited knowing I would finish my second marathon very shortly. I saw several people on the sidelines, being tended to by medics, which was a little alarming.

The Finish Line: I finished the race at a sprint and I was all smiles!



I immediately tried to find Rich, but my phone had died sometime during the race. After searching through the crowd for about a half hour, I finally found him. With flowers 🙂


For me! Notgonnalie. I may have shed a couple tears.

The mood at the finish line was festive and celebratory! We were provided with plenty of snacks and fluids to replenish. And no race would be complete without free beer…


I introduce to you, the best beer I’ve ever had

The medal I received for the marathon is my favorite one to date!


It’s HUGE and amazing and I will love it forever

My Official Stats: 

Finish Time: 4:39:01

Gender: 920/2311

Women Age 30-34: 181/452

Overall Place: 3356/6625

I had a brief moment of the slightest disappointment when I saw my finish time, as I felt like I could have pushed a little more. We can sometimes be our own worst critics. I had to remind myself that in June, which should have been my peak month in mileage in training for this race, I only ran about 60 miles because I got sick. Twice.When I was able to resume training, I decided to throw a solid time goal out the window and focus on just finishing. I troopered through the race up hills, on no sleep and remained unscathed by The Wall. I met my goal of finishing the San Francisco Marathon, PR’d, and lived to tell the tale!



A couple things I should note: I found out later that some of the aid stations eventually ran out of water, and there were timing issues with certain winners of the race-but I was unaffected.

Also a HUGE bonus: we were provided with FREE race photos! So I can remember all my special moments, like this one:


Nom nom

Running the San Francisco Marathon for the first time is a day I will remember forever. The race is a beautiful journey through The City and I will absolutely run it again!

If you made it all the way through this post, bravo and thank you for reading!




29 thoughts on “The San Francisco Marathon 2014, A Race Review

  1. Great race!! Awesome shirt and awesome medal!! I can’t believe you didn’t get to sleep at all before running a marathon – that’s impressive!! Your post-race beer was well deserved 🙂

  2. Great recap! Congrats to you!!!!!!!!! That first photo is awesome, the last one is hilarious! That’s so great about the free photos!! Maybe that’s why the entry fee is so high?

    • Thank you!! Haha isn’t that hilarious? I took a bite of a Shot Blok and then saw the camera snap..I knew it was going to be a good one! I’m sure it affected the fees as well..nothing is really “free” is it? 😉

  3. Yay!!! What a race! Sounds like you had a great time and a great finish! It is always nice to be able to finish strong. Good job on pacing. Don’t beat yourself up too much about the time. You can PR again on the next one!! 🙂 Congrats on the PR! That is super awesome that they give you free photos! I have never heard of such a thing!! That is probably part of the high price!?!?

    • Thank you!! I’ve tried not to be too focused on my finish time, which really is only a small portion of the whole experience. A lot of half marathoners talked to me after and said they couldn’t believe I ran the whole thing-so that in itself is a huge accomplishment to me! Now I’m just determined to give it another shot and push a little more 🙂 I loved the free photos! They probably worked the fee in to the price somehow I’m sure 🙂

  4. I’ve been waiting eagerly to read your recap – so worth the wait! I cannot believe you ran 26.2 miles on zero hours of sleep! You’re incredible. Seriously. Also, LOVE free race photos! I’ve been battling a bug the last couple weeks and have not run more than 4ish miles since my 16 miler on 8/3. A little worried that it’s putting me behind schedule but then I think about the setbacks you faced and how AWESOME your race wound up being and it gives me hope that all is not lost. What kind of water bottle do you have? I can’t decide if I should buy a hand held or invest in a hydration system.

    • Thank you!!! Sorry to hear you have been sick, but all is definitely not lost! If you ran 16 on the 3rd, it takes weeks before you start to lose any fitness! Just take it easy when you do start back in to full-on training mode. I had to tell myself to hold back for awhile, as it would make me stronger in the long run. Let yourself run/walk as needed. I use a Nathan’s handheld water bottle, it has an adjustable strap for my hand, plus a little zippy pouch I can put fuel and stuff in. I like it because you don’t have to grip the bottle because of the strap. I think it is less intrusive than a hydration system, but that’s just a personal preference!

  5. sitting in dubai, i was trying to see which US marathon comes in July Aug 2015…hence came across SF….thanks Jamie, nicely written…i think i will run in 2015 SF marathon….congrats …photos are amazing….freebies…hearing for the first time…

  6. Thanks for the recap. I’m running the SF marathon for the first time this year, and your rundown is helpful for preparing. The hills seem daunting, but knowing when to expect them will be very useful.

  7. Pingback: The San Francisco Marathon 2015, 2nd Half, A Race Review | BayRunner Jamie

  8. Pingback: The San Francisco Marathon 2016 Race Ambassador! | BayRunner Jamie

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